2 June 2021

Teaching others to be financially savvy - Kalene Smalberger

Two years ago, Kalene and her husband attended a Tony Robbins Business Mastery event in Amsterdam. It turned out to be five jam-packed days (14hours a day) of tools, resources and strategies to create high-performing businesses.

On one of the days there was a guest speaker, Keith J Cunningham, who is an entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in business and a passion for teaching. As he taught the entrepreneurs in the room the basics around finances, Kalene became aware of just how great the need is for entrepreneurs to understand and interpret their numbers, as many business owners were not comfortable with the workings of primary financial statements.

‘I realised that many entrepreneurs don’t even understand the basics around interpreting their numbers and how to make sense of various financial measures in their business, and this sparked a desire in me to empower the budding entrepreneur to be more financially literate and to be confident in working with their numbers.’

Kalene felt deeply inspired to make a difference, and in 2018 she invested in a Young Entrepreneurs franchise.

‘The programmes are phenomenal in teaching children from 7 to 18 years practical skills in entrepreneurship and financial literacy – fundamental concepts, through experiential learning, which aren’t taught in school. My personal favourite course is called “Young Millionaire”, specifically for teens – I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the youngsters light up as they realised their potential to earn money now and that by applying certain principles they can unlock their potential for financial freedom.’

Through this venture, she received a lot of queries from parents regarding financial coaching for adults, and things evolved that led to financial coaching for adults and SMMEs.

‘My aim is to help entrepreneurs manage their cash flow and understand concepts such as working capital − how to manage cash flow through debtors and creditors days, and stock turnover. Also, to raise their financial literacy in understanding the story that their financial statements are telling them, and to implement systems, processes and governance that will give the business structure from the beginning. As you cannot manage what you don’t measure, it is also important to create dashboards and key performance indicators to manage a business effectively, so these principles are highlighted and explained in a manner that is easy to understand, even if you do not have a financial background.’

At the end of 2019, Kalene approached her church about putting together a Finance Savvy course, as she wanted to show off her skills and time, and she realised the need for people to be educated with basic financial principles.

‘I developed the content in early 2020 and launched the 13-week course at the end of March 2020 via Zoom as South Africa had just gone into lockdown. Some of the topics I cover are mindset (creating a wealth blueprint), budgeting, compound interest (how it works and the impact on debt and investing), your credit score, debt-reducing strategies, entrepreneurship, taxation and investing (the various investment vehicles available and concepts such as risk and leverage). The last three sessions are dedicated to children and money (how to raise financially savvy children).’

The course was a great success, with many heart-warming testimonies of the change it had inspired numerous people. Her church had her do recordings of all the sessions which are going to be launched as a teaching series in small group settings.

Kalene also enjoys educating people about taxation, as many people perceive it to be very complex − yet there are basic principles that every entrepreneur should be aware of and which are important to apply.

‘Many people just need someone to believe in them – to come alongside them, give them some guidance and create unshakable confidence that they can grow a flourishing business and make a positive impact in the economy. Many of the people I have encountered had a lightbulb moment because they either attended a course of mine or have done financial coaching with me, and through this process they have gained the belief to either start a new venture or to make some tweaks to their current business.’

One of the greatest lessons that Kalene has learnt is that we can all make a difference in our own unique way. ‘Each of us have something to impart in some way − our gifts, talents and skills can make a difference in people’s lives, so don’t doubt your ability to be an agent of change.’

Kalene encourages other CAs to use their financial skills to make a difference in their spheres too.

‘As a CA, the comprehension of finance and business becomes second nature, and when you can use your skills to contribute to uplifting and imparting to a budding entrepreneur, you will unlock something in them that will cause waves that far outweigh any financial incentive for doing so. After the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on our economy, a mass of entrepreneurs are entering the market, either because people have been retrenched or because people are looking for opportunities to generate more than one income stream and they need experts in the field of finance to lock arms with them and educate them to be financially savvy business owners,’ says Kalene.

In 2004 Kalene did a 12-week transformation challenge through a nutritionist, and the results got her hooked on what would become a lifestyle of training and eating healthy.

‘I thoroughly enjoy weight training, but I make sure I keep my training routine varied by incorporating some cardio and cross-functional training. I place a lot of value on a healthy body and mind, as mental and physical wellness affects your state, which in turn affects your ability to “perform” in all areas of your life.’

Her passion for health and wellness has led her to one of her businesses that focuses on evidence-based nutrition and offers solutions for the harmful effects of silent chronic inflammation.

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

Have a vision that inspires you! I once read a quote by Steve Jobs that made such an impression on me: ‘If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.’ So make sure that the business you are building is something you are passionate about and for which you have a compelling, stirring vision. It is said that where there is no vision, people perish. And that same great book states that you need to ‘write down the vision’. Secondly, become a lifelong student – continuously pursue learning.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to fail! Many of your perceived failures will lead you to your greatest victories.